Trail (UK) - - Base Camp - by Doug Scott Ver­te­brate Pub­lish­ing

ome moun­tains are high; some moun­tains are hard. Few are both.” This sets the stage for this quite un­clas­si­fi­able book from the al­ways-in­ter­est­ing pen of Doug Scott – Hi­malayan trail-breaker, Ever­est his­tory-maker and com­mit­ted mem­ber of the Hard As Nails club. Part cul­tural his­tory, part moun­tain ‘bi­og­ra­phy’ and part mem­oir, the draw here is his ac­count of moun­taineer­ing’s most ex­tra­or­di­nary sur­vival story. In terms of the ob­vi­ous com­par­i­son, it makes Touch­ing the

Void read like a tick­ling com­pe­ti­tion. The story of Scott’s nine-day crawl to (even­tual) de­liv­er­ance af­ter break­ing both legs right be­low the top of one of the world’s hard­est moun­tains in 1977 would be bad enough. Then there’s the storm, the al­ti­tude, a climb­ing part­ner (Chris Bon­ing­ton, no less) with bro­ken ribs and pneu­mo­nia, no food, porters who aban­doned you, a res­cue he­li­copter that crashed and a sup­port team who gave you up for dead. This would be a book in it­self. But what Scott’s pro­duced is Re­view by Si­mon In­gram some­thing rather more rounded, to the point where the story of this aw­ful de­scent from al­most cer­tain death doesn’t be­gin un­til page 136 of 180. It’s a saucer-eyed read – but you feel, like many hard­ship-hard­ened folk, he brushes off the mind-bog­gling pain of it al­most too ca­su­ally. Per­haps it’s the 40-year sep­a­ra­tion, or that Scott never doubted he was go­ing to make it home (though you sus­pect that says more about him than the sit­u­a­tion), but you al­most ex­pect more... de­spair. In­stead, the ma­jor grum­ble was that they only had one tape for their tape player (Dr Hook) and that Scott amused him­self dur­ing his starved, frozen, frac­ture-jar­ring crawl down the moun­tain by plan­ning a kitchen ex­ten­sion in his head. It’s sur­pris­ing, but if any­thing it marks this out among sur­vival tales of a more typ­i­cally apoc­a­lyp­tic ilk. Co­pi­ously il­lus­trated, hi­lar­i­ously sar­cas­tic and al­most un­be­liev­ably bru­tal, this could al­most be satire. It isn‘t, of course; it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the mind of a sur­vivor against ev­ery odd. S

Crawl­ing down Pak­istan’s Ogre with two bro­ken legs, 1977: ac­tu­ally a lot harder than it sounds. Even with (or per­haps be­cause of) Dr Hook...

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